Two Spokane-area candidates are making technical fixes to their TV ads after complaints were filed with the state’s election watchdog that they were trying to hide their partisan affiliations.
Democratic state Senate challenger Rich Cowan and Spokane County Commission challenger Mary Lou Johnson, also running as a Democrat, dispute assertions that they were trying to hide anything but each is adding spoken references to being Democrats in their TV ads, which is required under state campaign rules. The advertisements already included written on-screen descriptions of their party affiliation.
Complaints about the TV ads were filed this week with the state Public Disclosure Commission by Cowan’s opponent, state Sen. Michael Baumgartner, R-Spokane, and by the Spokane Home Builders Association, which is backing Johnson’s opponent, Republican County Commissioner Al French.
The Cowan campaign said audio additions were being made to its TV commercials but insisted that any suggestion that party affiliation was unclear to viewers is silly.
“We clearly note Democrat on the screen,” campaign manager Alex Clardy said. “Our opponent is distracting the voters from his record, which he refuses to run on.”
The Johnson campaign said it also is adding a spoken reference to the candidate as being a Democrat.
Baumgartner was advised by the PDC that his complaint still is being reviewed but that Cowan’s campaign had been asked to make sure it was complying with the spoken disclosure rules in all future TV commercial airings.
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